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The Volksjäger comes earlier

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by T. A. Gardner, Jan 19, 2009.

  1. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Now that we have beaten the "Me262 earlier" to death, let's take this in another direction that actually might work.

    What if Hitler el. al. calls for a jet Volksjäger say in February 1944 after the US unleashes their "Big Week" campaign and P-51s are now appearing over Berlin. Let's assume that he and the higher ups in the Nazi political system are sufficently alarmed that they call for a mass produced non-strategic jet fighter to protect the Reich.

    Certainly the airframe design could have been produced by April or May 1944. Engines were available. The Jumo 004 and BMW 003 are both available in at least limited numbers at this point. Let's assume that since the 004 is already being put into the Me 262 and Ar 234 that the BMW 003 is specified. This could easily result in Henkel presenting the 162 and it being accepted for production in say May or June 44.

    Given the disasters of D-Day and the following breakout along with Bagration in the East I could see an earlier He 162 being in production by August 1944 and in service by October or November of that year.

    While such a development would not make a huge difference on the ground or in the overall outcome of the war, it certainly would have had an impact to have several hundred He 162 take on a US bomber formation. Unlike the cumbersome and heavy Me 262 the He 162 could have flown rings around any piston engined fighter of the period (assuming it doesn't come unglued...literally in flight). Given that the BMW 003 had a service life of about 100 hours or, about ten times that of the Jumo design both airplane and engine are matched to make them almost disposable as a unit. The Henkel also only takes about 1/3 the fuel of the Messerschmitt making it possible that a large number could have been flown at once.

    On the whole, the Henkel in service just 6 months earlier could have handed the Allies a shock for a time that the Me 262 never could.
     
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  2. Wolfy

    Wolfy Ace

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    I've seen the HE 162 in an airplane museum. Quite the bird.

    But it seemed to have a lot of teething drawbacks (much weaker armament than the ME-262, 30 minute fuel capacity, heavy losses from aircraft accidents (far heavier than combat), difficult to fly except for highly trained pilots (who were not around in large numbers by 1944), made out of weak materials, etc.
     
  3. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    Isn't that the aircraft that dropped its undercarriage on take of and skidded to a landing?
     
  4. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Not the He-162. The Me-163 did though.


    [​IMG]
     
  5. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    Oh, upon seeing the photo I thought that was only a prototype.
     
  6. Wolfy

    Wolfy Ace

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    The plane is surprisingly small and modern looking in person.
     
  7. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Nope. All photos I have seen have all had the Tricycle landing gear. :)
     
  8. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    The biggest problem with the He 162 is simply weak and shoddy construction. The later might have been gotten around more had the aircraft started production earlier. Most of the problems were related to improper bonding of wooden surfaces. Loss of 'bits' of aircraft could be a serious problem.
    The first prototype came apart in flight. First a portion of one wing leading edge, then the tail assembly. Others lost a landing gear door, or other panels in flight.
    I could see Henkel quickly switching the production model to a He 162B using a butterfly tail. This would eliminate most of the tail weakness rather handily. Historically, this was to be done on later variants as it was.
    Yes, the armament was a bit weak. Some possible variants could have been:

    Add R4M rockets in a pack or in a nose cone arrangement to give the fighter a one shot bomber buster armament in addition to the two cannon. Mk 108s are not possible. They were tested and found to shake the plane apart (too much recoil force). Early development of the 20mm revolver cannon Rheinmetall was working on. This would greatly increase the RoF giving the equivalent of say, 3 or 4 conventional cannon.

    Pilots are also a problem. But, to a degree, just surviving a few flights by a novice but basically trained pilot would have been a huge improvement over what was happening as it was. The Henkel, except for the structrual problems, would have greatly increased the odds of survival of most pilots. The inclusion of an ejection seat probably didn't hurt either.
     
  9. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    What do you think of this T.A. ?

    He 162
    THE PLYWOOD COFFIN
    Much has been written about the eleventh hour combat of the Me 262 jet fighter. We know the Arado Ar 234 saw service as well. There was another jet that made it to operational service in the last days of World War II. While it is probable that it never saw combat the fact cannot be confirmed either way.

    THE PROPOSAL
    In 1944 the Volksjaeger specification was issued to Heinkel, Blohm & Voss, Messerschmitt, Junker, Arado, and Focke Wulf. The criteria was that it be constructed of non-critical materials; it must be designed around the 1,764 lb. thrust BMW 003 turbojet; and it had to be ready to go into production on January 1, 1945. Other specified performance was that it have a speed of no less that 466 MPH; that it be armed with two Mk 108 30mm cannons; loaded weight was to be 4,410 lbs; it needed 30-minute endurance; it should use 1,640 feet or less to take off.

    Heinkel, Arado, Blohm & Voss, Focke Wulf, Messerschmitt and Junkers were presented with these specs- on the 8th of September 1944 and proposals were required by the 20th!

    The Volksjaeger (People’s Fighter) concept entranced Reichsmarshall Göring and neither General Adolph Galland, nor Willy Messerschmitt, nor Kurt Tank could dissuade him. Galland had always been a proponent of emphasis on the Me 262 which had already proven itself. Messerschmitt wanted nothing to do with the project. Tank stayed to gather information. The Blohm & Voss design was initially chosen over Heinkel’s. Dipl.-Ing. Franke of Heinkel was told that his model 1073 was too slow, mounted 20mm instead of 30mm cannons and had too long of a takeoff run. The B & V P.211 mounted the BMW 003 internally instead of in a pod above the fuselage. The RLM preferred it though the decision was not final.

    But Heinkel had built a mock-up he called the He.500 and RLM officials from Berlin inspected it on September 23rd. It was accepted and renamed the He 162 with the provision that it be ready to fly on January 1, 1945. The project cover name was “Salamander.” It was never the name of the plane. Ernst Heinkel called it the Spatz (Sparrow) and Luftwaffe pilots I know call it the ‘one-six, two.’ Volksjaeger was the public propaganda name. At any rate, the Heinkel team must have had an intense time of it because they actually had the first prototype He 162V1 flight on December 6, 1944!

    The monocoque fuselage was made of aluminum alloy but the nose, wings, gear door and parts of the tail were molded plywood. 4,000 per month were planned for from three main plants and the sub-contractor cottage industry dispersed about. 1,000 would have been more realistic if all went well.

    TESTS
    On December 10, 1944 Heinkel pilot Flugkapitan Peter again flew the plane in tests. He came across the field in a high speed pass and inferior bonding in the starboard wing allowed the leading edge to peel away subsequently ripping off the wing and killing Peter.

    A further nine pre-production evaluation aircraft were built with modifications incorporated into the He 162A-0 service machines. The He 162 V2 tested the 30mm Mk 108 cannons but airframe stress proved too high when fired and 20mm MG 151s were installed as Heinkel had originally proposed.

    By January 1945 planes were coming off assembly lines and being evaluated by Luftwaffe pilots. Semi-skilled workers built the planes in mines and caves. He 162 A-1s were powered by the BMW 003A-1 or A-2 and the He 162 A-2 designation was for machines powered with the BMW 003E-1 or E-2. Both were 1,760 lb. thrust engines rated for short burst of 2,000+ lbs. thrust.

    Alternative engines such as the soon-to-come Heinkel-Hirth HeS 11A were positively foreseen as well as a hybrid of convoluted mixes with rocket boosters and pulse-jets.

    Göring degenerated into pure drug fantasy with the idea that kids from the Hitler Jugend and the National Socialist Flyer’s Corps could go from gliders directly to jet fighters! This meant operational training would take place in actual combat. Even over-aged members of the Volksstrum home defense corps were proposed to fly the He 162s! Did Göring envision an old-timer with his grandson as wingman adeptly fending off P-51s as they thumped away at the heavy bombers?

    Oberstleutnant Heinz Bär, who ultimately scored 220 victories-sixteen in Me262s- was handed the job of evaluation for the Luftwaffe. In January 1945 at Muenchen-Roggenthin he and his men wrung out the 162 for combat worthiness for three months. That was all the involvement Bär had.

    ONE GRUPPE
    The initial group, I/JG1, moved to Parchim as III/JG1 under Oberst Herbert Ihlefield, near a Heinkel plant in Marienehe for conversion training in February taking He 162s direct from the assembly lines. In April they were based at Luwigslust. After a move to Leck there were too many planes cluttering the field from withdrawals at the fronts to even use the 162s at first.

    Only one actual group appears to have been operational, III/JG 1. Allied pilots did report seeing jets falling somewhere between the Me 163 and Me 262 in size, but didn’t know the 162 as such. 16 victory ace Oberleutnant Karl-Emil Demuth’s machine probably scored a victory in April but further details have been lost to history.

    136 victory ace Adolf Dickfeld officially attached to JG 11 at that time claims a kill in the He 162 also. Leutant Rudolf Schmitt claimed a kill and post flight photos do show muzzle blast residue on the gun ports. Another JG 1 pilot, Feldwebel Günther Kirchner, was KIA after downing an enemy A/C. The captured British pilot described the He 162 and the combat convincingly enough for the Luftwaffe to award the kill as Kirchner’s 5th making him an ace.

    All the Luftwaffe pilots were experienced and in brand new jet aircraft of superior performance to their foes’ so the possibility of success was high with the probability being favorable since the ratio of targets to hunters was high also.

    Even in its short life the He 162 had future variants and models proposed, as was the case with many late war German aircraft. There was no lack of future designs for a large number of aircraft. A Mistel version was drawn up with a 162 attached over a powered, winged bomb

    With the BMW 003 A-1, A-2 or E-1, E-2 with 1,760 lbs. thrust the tiny craft could hit 562 MPH at 19,700 ft. and 553 MPH at sea level in 30-second over-boosts with 2,028 lbs. of thrust. At normal thrust speeds were 522 and 490 MPH respectively. Initial climb was 4,615 FPM. At of 36,000 ft. a maximum range of 606 miles could be attained. The loaded weight measured 5,480 lbs. Span was 23.65’ and length was 29.75’. With two 20mm MG 151s it carried 120 RPG and with the two 30mm Mk 108s it was 50 RPG.

    The proposed BMW 003R combined jet/rocket booster could have propelled the 162 to 628 MPH at sea level. The definitive power plant was to have been the forthcoming all jet Heinkel HeS11 of 2,860 lb. thrust with a V-type tail and wings swept back or forward.

    PILOT EVALUATION
    In a post war evaluation by RAF pilot Commander William Benson test flew the He 162 having already checked out in the Gloster Meteor and the Me 262. He mentioned that it had a cockpit the size of the Vampire and had the feel and layout of familiar German fighters. “The 162 had an ejector seat fired by a 30mm shell. Instrumentation was sparse- Revi gun sight, gyro-compass, airspeed indicator, engine temperature, altimeter, fuel and flow gauges and radio. There was small window in the floor to see that the front wheel was down. Hydraulics lifted the landing gear but tension springs popped it down.”

    He continued, “I liked the visibility but the aileron control movement was unfelt through the stick. I mentioned that it was about as noisy as sitting in the last row of Boeing 727 airliner seats. It was quieter than a Mosquito or Spitfire and he could hear himself speak in the cabin. The 162s he flew had either 153 or 170 Imperial gallon main tanks but both had 40 gallons in the wet wings.”

    “It needed no warm up and lifted off at 120 KPH but didn’t give a “good push” like the twin-engine Meteor. He climbed to 28,000 feet and effortlessly cruised at 500 MPH. He kept in mind the Heinkel factory pilot’s demise from wing stress as he flew the splinter box.” (All MPH and other performance figures were later calculated from the metric instruments’ read outs)

    His crew chief was quoted as saying, “If you’re barmy enough to want to fly this carpenter’s nightmare, Sir, I feel I should point out that this ‘er glorified bloody blow torch you’re ‘anging under is only ‘anging on by two **^@#^* Bolts!”

    Thinking quickly, Benson retorted, “Well Sarge, if the bloody blow torch comes off I’ll just have to glide the jolly thing back won’t I?”

    “I felt the plane snaking gently left to right but tried a gentle low G loop with a 3,000-foot diameter at 28,000 feet and some other gentle maneuvers with no problems. I actually enjoyed flying it. The plane had no vices thus far and he pondered if Hitler youth may have been able to fly it after all,” he said.

    “But upon landing I noticed poor lateral control even though he was about 15 MPH over the advised 110 MPH approach speed. With 30-degrees flaps at 130 MPH I let down the gear. The nose gear’s close proximity springing down made a tremendous noise,” he concluded.

    He synopsized the plane’s handling thusly: “Low speed very tricky, lateral and longitudinal stability poor due to high mount of engine, control movements at all speeds had to be smooth-no sudden input.

    “Maximum altitude attained 42,200 ft. at 470 MPH, range at sea level 240 miles, 385 miles at 20,000 ft., 610 miles at 38,000 feet, 4,700 FPM at takeoff and 3,200 FPM at 20,000 ft. Maximum level speed seen- 562 MPH at 18,400 ft. Maximum dive speed 585 MPH at 25,000 ft. begun at 35,000 ft. Control snatch and buffet severe at those speeds requiring slow movements to level out. Lowest safe speed 120 MPH with some flaps. Treated smoothly with an experienced pilot, say, 2,600 hours flight time, it was very good. No way you could haul it around in maneuvers like a Spit or FW 190. Hitler Youth would have never stood a chance. Good visibility ahead and up but poor behind and back laterally.”

    A total of 150 planes were officially given to the Luftwaffe with about fifty more hurriedly taken without paperwork. 800 more were in advanced stages of final assembly.

    SAME DESIGN?
    Henschel produced a near clone of the He 162 in their jet HS 132A dive-bomber with its positive dihedral twin rudder tail.. This design proceeded the He 162’s seemingly being finalized in May of 1944. The construction of wood and metal was identical in usage to the 162.

    The pilot was to fly the craft in the prone position allowing higher Gs and less frontal area. The design was stressed to 12g believing 10-11g could be withstood by a prone pilot.

    A BMW 003A-1 of 1,760 lbs. thrust was the initial power plant with the Heinkel-Hirth 011A-1 of 2,866 lbs. thrust to replace it on the HS 132C model. It was in a pod atop the fuselage just like the He 162’s. With the BMW a top speed of 485 MPH at 19,685 ft. without and 435 MPH with a bomb of 1,102 lbs. was calculated. A maximum range of 696 miles was foreseen and a ceiling of 34,450 ft. was planned. Dimensions were identical to the 162 as well with a span of 23.65’ and a length of 29.2’ though weight was more at 7,496 lbs. loaded.

    The “C” was to have been armed with two 30mm Mk 103 with 60 RPG and two 20mm MG 151 with 250 RPG plus the bomb. Without the 30mms a larger 2,205 lb. bomb could have been toted. By the spring of 1945 prototype V1 was readying for flight trials with V2 and V3 80-percent finished. Soviet forces overran the factory before flight tests could commence.

    BIBLIOGRAPHY:

    Green, William
    Bombers & Reconnaissance Aircraft Vol. 10
    Doubleday & Co. NY 1968

    Green, William
    Fighters Vol. 1
    Doubleday & Co., 1960

    Green, William
    Jets Aircraft of the World
    Macdonald, London, 1955

    Green, Wm.
    The Complete Book of Fighters
    Smithmark Publishers, NY, 1994

    Trimble, Robert
    HE-162
    Air Combat September 1975

    Written by "Twitch" and published a few years ago
     
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  10. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Basically, I knew all that. But, it shows that the Henkel could have been made operational and would have been at least as vicious a fighter to take on as the Me 262. But, being far cheaper to mass produce could have been deployed in large numbers.
    Eric Brown is another British pilot to have flown the 162. He too was worried about its structurial soundness. He also states that the 162 had a phenomonal rate of roll and was very nice to fly in terms of control coordination.
    Snaking and porposing were common ailments to most early first generation jets. Larger tail surfaces and changes to fuselage and tail designs such as the "all flying tail" took care of most or all of these tendencies by the 50's.
     
  11. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Looking at aircraft production numbers I struck by the huge boost in output in 1944 after the 'fighters only' policy took effect. I wonder what difference it would have made had: 1. Production been concentrated on single engine types a full year earlier. 2. The pilot training program changed to something like the RAF had in 1940. Able to turn out pilots with basic fighter skills quickly & in large numbers.
     
  12. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    So everything stated is pretty spot on?
     
  13. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Pretty much. The weakest part of the design, at least as assessed by the British post war, was the tail assembly. The rest of the aircraft was really pretty structurially sound if put together right. Of course, German QA in 1945 wasn't real good.....

    But, it's pretty obvious, regardless of the British assessment, that a novice pilot could have flown the 162 without undue problems if he didn't push the airframe. Even with that limitation a He 162 would have flown rings around a Spitfire or Mustang. They didn't have the speed and there was no maneuver advantage the way there was against that flying dump truck the Me 262. The 162 is also considerably smaller making it a difficult target to sight.
    Given a unit that flies these regularly there is no reason not to believe that with a few sorties even novice pilots could be expected to gain enough experiance not to be little more than cannon fodder the way they were in obsolesent Me 109's or in an Fw 190.
    As cheap and easy to build as an He 162 was once in production Henkel could have improved the design making it structurially more sound as I indicated earlier.
    It is certain that getting 100 hours out of one would have been difficult so, unlike the Me 262 which is almost a one flight wonder the He 162 is really a balanced throw away design.
     
  14. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    I guess that the allure of the Me-262 is more then having the He-162 used earlier.
     
  15. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    No comments from the "What if the Me-262 was created earlier? " crowd?
     
  16. Adrian Wainer

    Adrian Wainer Dishonorably Discharged

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    Well a single engined fighter is always going to trump a twin engined fighter if resources are an issue and the twin engined fighter is not markedly more effective.

    Best and Warm Regards
    Adrian Wainer
     
  17. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    surprised Terry the He 162 was a piece of *hi*

    single engine propped on the top - nice target, ejection seat system that had fatal flaws at least 6-8 times, dealing with more low fuel efficiency. Better get the newer streamlined version of the 262 into program, the He 162 was not even on the drawing boards seriously for 1946 it would of beent aken over by swept wing fighters intro'd by Fw and Messer's. the He 162 is going to worthless as a night fighter, the single engines just did not have the length of stay nor firepower to rip a 4 engine bomber at night, so therefore I go back to the twin engine 262 for JC's sake ..... ;-P

    ok now that I have hi-jacked your thread.............apoligies
     
  18. Adrian Wainer

    Adrian Wainer Dishonorably Discharged

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    What two 20mm cannon not enough to bring down a Lancaster ? As for "in air time" versus the Me-262 could that not have solved by simply have more aircraft available because of the simplicity of the design. As for Night interception the Volksjager is obviously too small to carry a radar using 1940s technology but what about e.g. using a Ju-88 as an AWACs and also using ground based searchlights slaved to a ground based radar.

    Best and Warm Regards
    Adrian Wainer
     
  19. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Adrian what the Reich needed to do was have airfields on all fronts surrounding itself of the interior with plenty of land based AA to protect the wanderings of the ungainly jets as they landed plus air borne fighter cover. I say this for the day-time activities.

    it had already been proven at night that in march of 45 with Kommando Welters Me 262's that he needed more than counting on his right hand twin engine jets, he needed tons of them with experienced crews, something that could out distance Mossie NF's with speed and yet loiter up in the air with BC bombers to and from the target. A pipe dream yes. BC radar jamming was getting too sophisticated; JU 88 G's or whatever flying at high altitude as AWAC's were subject to the harassment of maurauding Mossies ever skilled in blasting LW craft for the skies. Interesting too that Searchlights had their own set of probs marking targets or being a traget themsleves, including light beacons
     
  20. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    No apology needed.

    But, Germany needed day fighters too. Probably moreso than nightfighters. The 162 is as fast as anything is going to get until everyone understands how mach works and how transition to sonic flight occurs so, better designs mean little for several years at least just as they did historically.
    The big advantages of the 162 is that the life of the airframe and engine are matched. Both won't last 100 hours but realistically neither will most Spitfires in service. However, the 162, so long as it doesn't structurially fail, will be able to make mulitple sorties without an engine change and on a third of the fuel of a 262.
    Those last two are really the downfall of the 262. With an engine life that is 10% of the BMW on a Henkel and requiring triple the fuel the Me 262 is so expensive in logistics to fly as to be totally useless.
    But, aside from that, I see no reason not to produce the 262 as just a nightfighter. Limit its use and numbers where it is justified at least a bit. By day let the ligher, cheaper, and more reliable and economical Henkel do the work.
     

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